The problems with Math

June 2, 2010

I had a few minutes today waiting in the doctor’s office (actually it was more like a few hours.  Can I charge the doctor for my time?) I was thinking about some of the problems in math instruction and the ones that I am encountering as I explore a redesign of our online courses.

  • Students feel isolated; they cannot get the support they need when they need it.
  • Student cannot achieve manageable milestones.
  • They do not have the prerequisite concepts and skills before they start a math course.
  • Student go too fast through the courses.
  • Do not master a concept before moving on to the next concept.
  • They want a tutor to teach them, not the textbook.
  • Student don’t explore the multimedia resources if it is not integral to the course.
  • Student don’t read  the textbook.

Some of my ideas about how to address these problems are:

Create chat rooms for each concept that is being taught.  If the student needs help, they can join the chat room and discuss the problems with other students who are also grappling with the same problems.  Or have a TA online that the students can call or skype or set up virtual office hours.

Create a milestones in the course that students must meet before them can move on to new material.  Make sure that they understand the concept through some sort of assessment before they can move on to new material.

Move a word problem from the end of the lesson to the beginning of the lesson and use it to start a conversation.  Allow the word problem to drive the instruction and introduce the concepts to be learned. Make the word problem visual


Make math matter

June 2, 2010

I was assigned as the instructional designer for the Independent Study Math portfolio  for both high school and university courses.  As I reviewed the current online courses, I realized that the textbook is the instructor for these courses.  The instructional design of the courses is learning outcomes, discussion material which is usually what is already in the textbook, homework assignment, then a test.   The textbook do not put the concepts in a realistic, relevant context. I am looking at a redesign of the instruction.  Is it possible to design a math course within the context of other disciplines; for example, my husband teaches computer vision and his student have commented that they finally understand calculus as he explains it in the context of computer vision.   I know that I understood English much better after I took a foreign language.  My husband was helping our teenage son  with his geometry homework when my son exclaimed, “this is useless. When am I ever going to use this.” My husband replied “Geometry is very useful in animation.”  Newton, Galileo, daVinci observed phenomena that occurred in the world and they used a language to explain these real world observations.

Here are some of my ideas:

  • Think about how to design a math lesson that incorporates a way to predict students preconceptions, and includes metacognition.  Are there tools? Can we use reciprocal teaching to predict, clarify, question, and summarize as a model for math instruction.
  • Divide the math curriculum into stories.  Think of kindergarten.  Every month is something special. Each week of the month has meaning.  Kindergarten is a a series of projects interspersed with games and challenges.
  • If math is a language, then why not teach it like you would teach a language.  How do students learn language?
  • I know that I learned Spanish by living in the country that spoke Spanish.  Can I take my students where math lives?  Immerse them in that environment.

Out of the mouth of babes

April 12, 2010

My children and I went tothe university today and stopped by my husband’s class to put up a key.  His class was already in session when we arrived.  As we were leaving the classroom,  my five-year old son looked up at his dad and said, “Dad, I love you because you are a teacher.”  You could hear the students in the classroom make an audible sigh.  Out of the mouth of babes.

On a separate note,  graduation day is 10 days away.  It is hard to believe that I have finished my graduate work.  I remember the day that I defended my thesis and passed.  I felt like there should be a 21 gun salute followed by a ticker tape parade but it was rather anticlimatic.   I guess the pomp and circumstance comes on graduation day.   Regardless,  I have accomplished a goal that I had set some time ago and it feels good.

People are referring to my posts.

October 27, 2008

This is the second time that someone referred to one of my posts.  This is very exciting to me because I wasn’t sure if my posts could offer anything of interest to someone else, but it turns out that I may have been wrong.  The experience of blogging my ideas has been life-changing for me.  I feel empowered to share my ideas more.

Slideshare, Diigo, and Analytics

October 25, 2008

For those who know that I am taking a New Media, Social Media and Learning course as part of my graduate coursework,  we were assigned to explore Slideshare, Diigo, and Google analytics.  If you want some interesting information on using technology for differentiated instruction, check out Instructional Technology Coaching Meeting. The slideshow talks about ways we can differentiate instruction either by the way we assess student’s knowledge, the way that the student gains access to the knowledge and the depth of the content that the student explores.  It also gives some good tools for differentiated instruction.

The other slideshow that I found is Instructional Design for the Semantic Web. I am interested in the concept of the semantic web because of its potential to make a student’s thinking process visible and where there are breakdowns or holes in their understanding of a concept.  

Another slideshow I found intriguing is Instructional design 3.0. This slideshow lists some emerging technologies and examples that can be used by instructional designers to design for the Web 3.0:  

I have not been successful at highlighting and annotating a blog entry.  I have tried several times.  I know that Diigo goes not support Safari.  I downloaded Diigolet.  Is this the problem?  I am wondering if anyone else has had difficulty in annotating with Diigo.  

Thoughts on web analytics from an instructional designer’s point of view, not a business or marketing perspective, are: (1) I think that analytics is a good tool for designers to see how they can improve their instructional designs by watching how users access the site and materials and (2) I also see analytics providing a resource into the minds of those who use the instruction which can inform future designs. 

In thinking about how these tools can be used to share the gospel,  I can see Diigo as being very helpful in that I can highlight certain parts of church articles and then annotate it with my experiences and perspective.  Web Analytics may be helpful to see what topics visitors to the church web sites go to first. This may reveal what is on the minds of church members and nonmembers which could  help to tailor messages to not only church members but nonmembers.  I can see this having an impact on missions where a mission could have a website and then the missionaries could see who is coming to the site and what the visitors most pressing needs are.  This can help the missionaries to better serve the people in their area, not just in sharing the gospel but helping them with other needs.

podcasting, screencasting and video-sharing, oh my

October 22, 2008

I received an incoming link to my post about Heekya (thanks again, David in DC).  This is the first time that I have actually received a response to one of my blog postings.  I have to say it feels good to share with others and have others share with you, especially to have someone respond favorably to one of your posts. 

Before I launch into what I have found this week,  Have you ever felt overwhelmed by the amount of information that is coming at you every day?  Before wikis, RSS feeds, blogs, etc,  they only way you got information was through the radio, TV and newspaper and you could also turn it off if it was too much information.  Not now,  every morning when I get up I have at least 100 RSS feeds to go through and at least a couple of facebook friends to accept and instead of being woken up to the birds singing,  I am greeted by my twitterific account chirping at intermittent intervals.  Talk about hitting the ground running every morning.  Man,  it is better than coffee in the morning. . . well,  maybe not as good as a Starbucks’ Mocha Latte but that was a previous life. . . now it is Good Morning, Web 2.0

By I digress, I am researching educational uses of podcasts, screencasts, and video-sharing. 

As I was scanning the web for educational uses of podcasts, I came across a gem of a website.Education Podcast Network.  I also came across a list of educational uses of podcasts that I found helpful.  Educational Uses of Podcasting

As I continued persuing the web,  I came across a link called Give the Students What They Want by Mark Ott, from Jackson Community College.  He illustrates in a screencast what he is doing in the classroom to use screencast and gives examples. has an interesting wiki on Video-sharing where it describes what video-sharing is, educational ideas around video-sharing, other educators using video-sharing, VideoEDU that gives examples of educational video.  It also describes how video-sharing works, software and hardware that is needed and available, what to use to capture video,  information about pre-production and post-production.  It has everything that a layman would need to know on how to do video-sharing, plus helpful references for educators.  I found a similar site called Video from Learning Technologies Centre that gives an excellent overview of video use online, examples of video use in education, video creation, video editing, video sharing/hosting.  A good resource for those who are new to video-sharing.

Coming soon.  I am working on creating two screencast for my IPT 287 students on how to set up a Google account and how to set up a wiki that I can post to our class wiki and I am also looking for a way to share some on my ideas about how I developed my testimony and my membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints either through a video or a podcast.  Look for my next post later in the day to see what I come up with.


October 13, 2008

I received a comment on my post about digital storytelling from David Adewumi from Washington, D.C.  He writes, Heekya which is an digital storytelling tool that allows people to create stories that happen in real life.  You can use it as a digital scrapbook or you can add to stories that are happening in the world.  It is like the wikipedia for story-telling where others can come and create their version of the feature story, whether it is about a world event or a personal event (wedding).  I can see a great potential for educational uses of this tool.  Students can express their viewpoint about a specific event in history, current event, or storyline in a book or a topic.   It also helps students to see the viewpoints on others on the same event or topic.  This tools looks very promising and I am interested in using it to see what other possibilities it has for personal and educational use.